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Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky Biography

born Leipzig (GERMANY) 1955

Andreas Gursky was born on January 15, 1955 in Leipzig, East Germany. His family relocated to West Germany, moving to Essen and then Dusseldorf by the end of 1957. Although his parents ran a commercial photography studio, the young Gursky did not seriously consider following their career path. From 1978 to 1980 he attended the Folkwangschule, Essen. While in school, he worked as a taxi driver. After failing to find work as a photojournalist, Gursky entered the prestigious Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf, in 1980 with the encouragement of Thomas Struth. After the first year of foundation coursework, he studied photography with Bernd and Hilla Becher. After setting up a color darkroom with friends in 1981, he worked solely in color despite the Bechers' preference for black and white. For his first exhibition, Gursky's Pfurtnerbilder series of 1981–85, depicting the pairs of front-desk security staff omnipresent in German office buildings, was presented at the Dusseldorf Airport in 1987. In the mid-1980s he explored juxtapositions of nature and industry in the Ruhr Valley and made sharply detailed photographs of groups of people engaged in leisure activities out in the landscape. Gursky received his diploma in 1987.

Gursky's first solo gallery show was held at Galerie Johnen & Schottle, Cologne, in 1988. A solo museum exhibition followed the next year, at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld. The booming international art market, including a growing taste for photography and interest in the Bechers' circle, helped bring Gursky commercial success. In the 1990s he traveled internationally to such cities as Tokyo, Cairo, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Singapore, and Los Angeles, often planning out his shoots of buildings, factories, hotels, and office buildings in advance of his arrival. In 1991–93 he photographed Siemens manufacturing plants at the company's invitation, juxtaposing technology, people, and their environment.

From about 1988 Gursky increased the size of his photographs, which he had printed by a commercial lab. In the 1990s he used the largest size of photographic paper on the market; by 2000 he was combining sheets to produce images larger than six by fifteen feet. In the early 1990s Gursky began to use digital technology for retouching and then for altering his negatives. For some works, such as architectural subjects, he moved the camera between shots and then combined the negatives on computer to make seamless, often panorama-like, images. In 2001 he finished Stockholder Meeting, which represented a new stage in his work in that its setting is entirely a digital fabrication.

In 1994 an exhibition of Gursky's work from 1984 to 1993 was presented at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg and the De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam. The Kunsthalle Dusseldorf presented a midcareer retrospective of his work in 1998. In 2000 Gursky ran in the New York City marathon amid preparations for another retrospective, which was organized by the Museum of Modern Art and shown there in 2001. His work has been seen in international exhibitions, including the Internationale Foto-Triennale in Esslingen (1989 and 1995), the Venice Biennale (1990), and the Biennale of Sydney (1996 and 2000). Gursky has won several awards, among them the 1988 Forderpreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen fur junge Kunstler, the 1998 Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize, and the 2001 Infinity Award for Art from the International Center of Photography, New York.

Since 2002 Gursky has occupied a studio and living space realized by the architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron within a former power station in Dusseldorf.

Select Timeline

Select Exhibitions

  • 1988 - Galerie Johnen & Schottle, Cologne
  • 1989 - Centre Genevois de Gravure Contemporaine, Geneva
  • 1989 - The Clocktower, P.S.1, New York
  • 1989 - 303 Gallery, New York
  • 1989 - Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld
  • 1991 - Galerie Rudiger Schottle, Munich
  • 1991 - Galerie Johnen & Schottle, Cologne
  • 1991 - 303 Gallery, New York
  • 1991 - Galerie Rudiger Schottle, Paris
  • 1991 - Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart
  • 1992 - Kunsthalle, Zurich
  • 1992 - Victoria Miro Gallery, London
  • 1992 - Galleria Lia Rumma, Naples
  • 1992 - Hypobank, New York
  • 1993 - Monika Spruth Galerie, Cologne
  • 1994 - Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
  • 1994 - De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam
  • 1994 - Le Case D'Arte, Milan
  • 1995 - 303 Gallery, New York
  • 1995 - Rooseum, Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo
  • 1995 - Galerie Mai 36, Zurich
  • 1995 - Andreas Gursky: Images, Tate Gallery, Liverpool
  • 1995 - Portikus, Frankfurt
  • 1996 - Victoria Miro, London
  • 1996 - Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris
  • 1996 - Monika Spruth Galerie, Cologne
  • 1996 - Galerie Jean Bernier, Athens
  • 1997 - Michael Ashkin, Andreas Gursky and Fischli & Weiss, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 1997 - About Painting, Robert Miller Gallery, New York
  • 1997 - Young German Artists 2, Saatchi Gallery, London
  • 1997 - Belladonna, ICA, London
  • 1997 - Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • 1997 - Javier Lopez, Madrid
  • 1997 - Galerie Mai 36, Zurich
  • 1997 - Galerie Rudiger Schottle, Munich
  • 1998 - Milwaukee Art Museum. Travels to Henry Art Gallery, Columbus Museum of Art, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
  • 1998 - Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize 1998, The Photographer's Gallery, London
  • 1999 - Robert Grosvenor, Andreas Gursky, John Wesley, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • 1999 - The Big Picture: Large-Format Photography, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Vermont
  • 1999 - Raume: Lucinda Devlin, Andreas Gursky, Candida Hofer, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria
  • 1999 - Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Ed Ruscha: Grosse Illusionen, Kunstmuseum Bonn. Travels to Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami
  • 1999 - Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • 1999 - Regen Projects, Los Angeles
  • 2000 - How You Look At It, Sprengel Museum, Hanover. Travels to Frankfurt
  • 2000 - Ansicht-Aussicht-Einsicht, Museum, Bochum. Travels to Galerie fur Zeitgenossische Kunst, Leipzig and Galeria Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow
  • 2000 - Landmark Pictures in Boston: Ed Ruscha/Andreas Gursky, Harvard University Art Museum, Cambridge, MA
  • 2000 - Sydney Bienalle, Sydney
  • 2000 - Photography Now, Contemporary Arts Museum, New Orleans
  • 2000 - Szenenwechsel XVIII, Museum fur moderne Kunst, Franfurt/Main
  • 2000 - Walker Evans & Company, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 2000 - Photography Now, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
  • 2000 - Andreas Gursky: Fotowerken (Photo Works), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
  • 2001 - Szenenwechsel XIX, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main
  • 2001 - Let's entertain - Life's Guilty Pleasures, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
  • 2001 - GeldLust - ModellBanking, Kunsthalle Tirol
  • 2001 - Das flache Land, Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen Cottbus
  • 2001 - Die Kunst des Autos, Kunsthalle Dominikanerkirche, Osnabruck
  • 2001 - Andreas Gursky, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 2001 - Andreas Gursky: Photographs, The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts, ASU Art Museum, Nelson Fine Arts Center, Tempe, Arizona
  • 2001 - Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan
  • 2001 - Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • 2002 - Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris
  • 2002 - Galleri K, Oslo, Norway
  • 2002 - Zwischen Schonheit und Sachlichkeit, Kunsthalle Emden
  • 2002 - Shopping, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main
  • 2002 - Moments which I intend to remember, Staatgalerij Heerlen
  • 2002 - Art & Economy, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
  • 2002 - heute bis jetzt, museum kunst palast, Dusseldorf
  • 2002 - Becher Schuler, Galerie 22, Hamburg
  • 2002 - Positionen der Fotografie, Galerie Fahnemann, Berlin
  • 2002 - Die Stadt, Stadtische Galerie Haus Coburg, Delmenhorst
  • 2002 - Malerei ohne Malerei, Museum der bildenden Kunste, Leipzig
  • 2002 - Moving Pictures, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • 2002 - Remix, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool
  • 2003 - Cruel and tender, Tate Modern, London
  • 2003 - Berlin-Moskau Moskau-Berlin 1950-2000, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
  • 2003 - Cruel and Tender, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
  • 2003 - Stranger in the Village, Guild Hall, New York, organized by the MoMA
  • 2003 - Affinities…Now and Then, Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas
  • 2003 - The Squared Circle: Boxing in Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 2003 - Objective Spaces: Photographers from Germany, Waddington Galleries, London, England
  • 2003 - Antipodes, White Cube, London
  • 2003 - Moving Pictures, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; weitere Stationen/ traveled to Solomon R. Gugenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
  • 2003 - Painting Pictures, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany
  • 2003 - Unreal Estate Opportunities, pkm gallery, Seoul, Korea
  • 2003 - Imagine, you are standing here in front of me, Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • 2003 - Imperfect Innocence. The Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, Florida
  • 2003 - Torn Between Two Lovers, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • 2003 - Le Stanze dell'Arte: Figure e Imagini del XX Secolo, Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy
  • 2003 - The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes, Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery, Florenz/Florence, Italy
  • 2003 - Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • 2004 - Made in Mexico/Hecho en Mexico, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • 2004 - The Explosive Photography, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York
  • 2004 - Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • 2004 - Galerie Monika Spruth Philomene Magers, Koln/Cologne, Germany
  • 2004 - 100 Artists See God, The Jewish Museum of Art, San Francisco
  • 2004 - La condicion humana, Forum Universal de las Culturas Barcelona 2004, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2004 - Love/Hate from Magritte to Cattelan. Masterpieces from the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • 2004 - On Side, Centro de Artes Visuais, Encontros de Fotografia, Coimbra, Portugal
  • 2004 - Metamorph, Venice Biennale, International Architecture
  • 2004 - The Ten Commandments, Deutsches Hygiene Museum, Dresden, Germany
  • 2004 - Made in Mexico, ICA Boston, Boston
  • 2005 - Landscape/Cityscape, Marlborough Gallery, New York
  • 2005 - Faces in the Crowd: Picturing Modern Life from Manet to Today, Whitechapel, London
  • 2005 - Contemporary Voices, UBS Art Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 2005 - Discovery of the Horizontal, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
  • 2005 - Superstars: From Warhol to Madonna, Kunstforum & Kunsthalle Wien/Vienna, Austria
  • 2005 - Getting Emotional, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston
  • 2005 - Empreinte Moi: Une Exposition de Phillipe Segalot, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France
  • 2005 - Why Pictures Now, Museum Moderner Kunst, Wien/Vienna, Austria
  • 2006 - Surprise, Surprise, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
  • 2006 - Thank you for the Music (London Beat), Spruth Magers Lee, London
  • 2006 - Click Doubleclick, Haus der Kunst, Munchen/Munich; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussel/Brussels
  • 2006 - Spectacular City. Photographing the Future, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Select Artwork

  • Bahrain I, 2005
  • Salerno, 1990, 1995
  • James Bond Island III, 2007
  • Erdwall Ratingen, 1989
  • Busche Krefeld, 1989
  • Siemens, 1991
  • Copan, 2002
  • Greeley, 2002



  • Andreas Gursky - by Peter Galassi (Author), Glenn D. Lowry, Museum of Modern Art (July 15, 2002)
  • Andreas Gursky: Photographs - by Andreas Gursky, Schirmer/Mosel (September 30, 2004)

Quick Facts

  • Gursky received a strong influence from his teachers, Hilla and Bernd Becher.
  • Before the mid 1990s, Gursky did not digitally manipulate his images. Today, however Gursky uses computers to edit his pictures and creates art in a larger space than the subject photographed.
  • Is a German photographer known for the highly textured feel of his enormous photographs often using a high point of view.


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